Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The Team Takes a Day Off

Last Wednesday I told you a little bit about the team that our nonprofit, Tumaini Volunteers, sent to Kenya. The Anyoraa Community Center they have been working on is coming along, and I hope to show you pictures of the entire project next week, when it is finished (keeping my fingers crossed, as they only have one more full day there).

They did take the day off yesterday to go on safari. I can’t even count the number of pictures they posted in our Google album. Here are just a few random ones.

This beauty, though, gets more than a single shot.
 He was eating a small antelope up in the tree when the team and their guide found him.
 And watched him for a long time from the safety of their safari van.
 Just an awesome animal. Beyond words beautiful. 
The team got to eat lunch too.
Back to work, guys. You’ll be heading home soon.  

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Nothing More I Can Say

I’ve been reading the book of Jeremiah in my nightly Bible reading. When I came to chapter 25 the other night, the blood in my veins ran cold. Of course, the context of this passage is the prophet Jeremiah trying to save his people from certain destruction. But I think God would say these same things to us. What in the world are we doing to our world and our brothers and sisters, and how can we not expect to incur God’s wrath because of it. (Sorry this is so long; I did cut out a few verses, but it was hard to glean it further.)  
4 And though the Lord has sent all his servants the prophets to you again and again, you have not listened or paid any attention. 5 They said, “Turn now, each of you, from your evil ways and your evil practices, and you can stay in the land the Lord gave to you and your ancestors for ever and ever. 6 Do not follow other gods to serve and worship them; do not arouse my anger with what your hands have made. Then I will not harm you.”

7 “But you did not listen to me,” declares the Lord, “and you have aroused my anger with what your hands have made, and you have brought harm to yourselves.”

8 Therefore the Lord Almighty says this: “Because you have not listened to my words, 9 . . . I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants and against all the surrounding nations. I will completely destroy them and make them an object of horror and scorn, and an everlasting ruin. 10 I will banish from them the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, the sound of millstones and the light of the lamp. 11 This whole country will become a desolate wasteland.

27 “Then tell them, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Drink, get drunk and vomit, and fall to rise no more because of the sword I will send among you.’ 28 But if they refuse to take the cup from your hand and drink, tell them, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says: You must drink it! 29 See, I am beginning to bring disaster on the city that bears my Name, and will you indeed go unpunished? You will not go unpunished, for I am calling down a sword on all who live on the earth, declares the Lord Almighty.’

30 “Now prophesy all these words against them and say to them:

“‘The Lord will roar from on high;
    he will thunder from his holy dwelling
    and roar mightily against his land.
He will shout like those who tread the grapes,
    shout against all who live on the earth.
31 The tumult will resound to the ends of the earth,
    for the Lord will bring charges against the nations;
he will bring judgment on all mankind
    and put the wicked to the sword,’”
declares the Lord.

32 This is what the Lord Almighty says:

“Look! Disaster is spreading
    from nation to nation;
a mighty storm is rising
    from the ends of the earth.”

33 At that time those slain by the Lord will be everywhere—from one end of the earth to the other. They will not be mourned or gathered up or buried, but will be like dung lying on the ground.

34 Weep and wail, you shepherds;
    roll in the dust, you leaders of the flock.
For your time to be slaughtered has come;
    you will fall like the best of the rams.
35 The shepherds will have nowhere to flee,
    the leaders of the flock no place to escape.
36 Hear the cry of the shepherds,
    the wailing of the leaders of the flock,
    for the Lord is destroying their pasture.
37 The peaceful meadows will be laid waste
    because of the fierce anger of the Lord.
38 Like a lion he will leave his lair,
    and their land will become desolate
because of the sword of the oppressor
    and because of the Lord’s fierce anger.

(Various verses from Jeremiah, chapter 25, New International Version)

And there’s nothing more I can say. 

Friday, January 25, 2019


I once again spent way too much time this past work scouring and putting together my family tree. Those roots seem to go back quite a ways. When I find people who were born in the 1600s, who are allegedly ancestors, a good part of me thinks, “this is all made up. Who kept records back then?” Then I click on the document and a copy of a faded church ledger filled with handwriting no one can decipher shows some names and dates which someone has determined are names of real people and dates they were really born, died or were baptized.

Besides being time-consuming, it is fascinating. We watch TV shows and movies and read books all telling of things that happened hundreds of years ago. It all seems real enough when someone else is giving you their version. But then when you see a name like Hieronymus Paul, born in 1660 in Griesborn, Saarland, Germany, and the computer is telling me this guy is my seventh great-grandfather, how does a person not get kind of excited.

Oh, well, I will keep looking and researching, taking a lot of it with a grain of salt. I’ll also start setting a timer so I get to bed on time.

(Somehow, someone decided that this document witnesses the marriage of Katharina Paul to Johann Wagner. I can make out the name Wagner and month of April, but that’s about it.) 

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The Team Arrives in Kenya

I was looking back over my posts the last few months, and I don’t see that I mentioned that our nonprofit organization is taking a team back to Kenya this month. Where have I been???

My son Nick and daughter Val recruited her husband, a girl my kids went to high school with and the girl’s mother. Nick actually had been in Ghana, Africa, with Engineers without Borders since the end of December. 
He was supposed to be helping build a school, but also spent time believing he was Steve Irwin.
He flew from there to Kenya last week. Val, Kaine, Alyssa and Maureen all arrived Monday evening (that’s our time; it was four am in Kenya).
They are there to start the Anyoraa Community Center. I wrote about that when Nick and I returned home last spring. Before they can start the project, however, they are doing some acclimating, apparently. That’s probably a good idea, though, since three of them have never been to Africa before.

I’ll try to share more pictures when I get them from the team. 

Sunday, January 20, 2019

What is a Gift Worth?

   As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
Luke 21:1-4 (New International Version)
Since I have been blogging this year about the word “gift”, I had to once again share this story.

When I was in Kenya in 2015, I had the honor of meeting the little girl I sponsor through Compassion. I arrived at her home loaded down with gifts for her and her family. Buying them barely made a dent in my bank account.

She and her mother gave me four eggs, a gourd bowl and a crocheted doily. They gave me so much more than I gave them. They gave everything they had. Their gifts were and still are the most precious possessions in my house (except the eggs, they are long gone, thankfully).

Lord, God, help us to remember which gifts are priceless. Help us to remember the most priceless gift you gave to us – eternal life. Amen.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Flashback Friday - the packet labeled Paul

Most weeks, I don’t know where the time goes, but I at least try to keep track of what day it is. Here it is another Friday morning, and I am totally unprepared to write a blog post. The professionals would probably say that I’m better off not posting anything, than posting something lame and thrown together in five minutes. Yet here I am, bucking the system.

Going through Mom’s old pictures last Sunday, I found a pack labeled “Dad/Paul’. I’d never seen these four pictures before and only one was clearly labeled.

This is my dad’s sister Emmy and her husband Jeff Jeffers. In 1934, age 22, she was diagnosed with heart disease, some type of valve disorder.  At the time, there was nothing that could be done about it.  She and her husband decided that because of that they would not have any children.  They lived for a time in Chicago and Iowa, as well as Tripoli, Wisconsin.  They moved to California in 1954, where she died two weeks later at age 42.  The cause of death was listed as pneumonia, but in the 21st century, the diagnosis probably would have been congestive heart failure, a product of the valve disease. 
The other three pictures, I have no clue. I’ll have to keep studying them. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Coming to the Clinic – Part 9 – and the winner is . . .

If you read last Wednesday’s blog, you may be wondering which colon screening test I opted to take. My choices were Colonoscopy, Cologuard or FIT. (If you didn’t read last week’s post on this topic, or if you totally forgot what it was about, you might want to revisit it here.)

First, in case you don’t know me, I may not be the poster child for good health and fitness, but I’m only a few pounds overweight, I don’t smoke or drink alcohol, I very rarely eat red meat, I get a reasonable amount of exercise, and I am really working on getting enough sleep. And back to my eating habits? I pretty much consume the Three C’s. Cheerios, chocolate and cookies. I know. My bad.

But with all that in mind, I really am at very low risk for colon cancer. I did have one uncle who was diagnosed with it in his old age, so that’s really all I have going against me. With all that said, hey, folks, I still had my colon screening. So, remember that. No matter how low-risk you are, screenings are important and recommended for a reason.

I did the FIT test last year. Probably the easiest screen to do, but also needs to be repeated every year. This time around, I decided to try the Cologuard. Slightly more complicated to collect, but good for three years.

So, one day, a week before Christmas, my square Cologuard box came via UPS. It sat on the kitchen counter for a few days, amongst the tins of candies and cookies, before I realized that this was not the time of year to deal with this. I put the box in my home office, waiting for the holiday dust to settle. 

Plus, when the Cologuard people called me a few days later to see if my package had arrived and if I had any questions, they reminded me that there was a time element in me getting my specimen to them. Between the weekends and the holidays, there wasn’t a lot of time to get this thing delivered.
Then, New Year’s Day evening, just when I thought that I can deposit my sample in the little plastic container, I was hit with the stomach flu. Seriously? Yes, a couple day of diarrhea and my colon was cleaned out enough that I should have gotten right in for my colonoscopy.  

Instead I waited until the following Monday morning and was able to drop my perfect specimen into the plastic jar. Got it labeled, sealed it up, got it ready to take to town for drop-off on my way to work. In a near blizzard. I really did not want to mess this up, somehow, I would get my Cologuard box off to UPS that day.
I’ll save you from the whole story, because it was rather convoluted (and stressful), but in the end when I finally got the box to the store which sends out UPS in our town, I almost broke down in tears when I saw an identical box on the counter. I pointed it out to the woman working there and said something like, “send mine with that one.” She looked at the two boxes and was like, whatever. I really wanted to set my box down next to the other one (I really wanted to take a picture of them together!), thinking, my poop has a partner to travel to the lab with.

I’m starting to think that I will try the colonoscopy next time just to see if it is that much fun. 

Sunday, January 13, 2019

How Many Gifts were Given this Week?

  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -- and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -- not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8 (New International Version)

Last Sunday I shared with you that my word for 2019 is Gift. Not surprisingly, that word is found a lot in the Bible. Today’s verse might be familiar to you; I’ve seen it used a fair amount.

Last week, in addition to sharing this word and a different verse which inspired me to choose it, I mentioned that my goal for the year is to share my gifts of time, talent, and resources with those in need. As today’s passage reminds us, however, I’m not going to tell you if I shared any of my gifts this past week. That’s for me and God to know, for the recipient to maybe find out and for you to definitely not know.

All I can say is that my stinginess still far outweighs my generosity. But don’t we all have a long way to go with that?

Thank You, Lord God, for giving us the greatest Gift, that of salvation, given freely and lovingly. Amen.
This was actually a gift to our parents in 1991. My brother, sisters and me. Before ugly sweaters were a thing. 

Friday, January 11, 2019

Flashback Friday - 8mm movie stills

 If you read Sunday’s post, you may remember that I promised you the story behind the picture I posted.

A few years before I was born, my parents got an 8mm movie camera. Which means, that as I’ve been going through the box of old pictures of my mom’s, I’m finding a ton of faded photos of my brother and oldest sister. By the time my other sister and I had come along, my parents were so in to using the movie camera, that they didn’t take nearly as many snapshots.

A few months ago, I ran across an ad for an online place that “preserves your family memories”. I did some research and opted to “preserve my family memories” locally. The woman has done an okay job putting those 8mm reels onto CDs, and I’m not going to complain. The movies are fifty-plus years old, after all. I just can’t get them from the CD onto my computer so I can edit them. But for now, I can improvise. And get misty eyed. 
 My sister Pat and I. 
 Pat and I with our paternal grandma. 
With Dad, in matching sweaters that Mom probably knit for us. 
We had a nauseatingly lot of matching outfits. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Coming to the Clinic – Part 8 - The Bottom Line

My goodness, it has been since the end of August that I have added to this series. About time I get back to it.

Today we are going to discuss one those places no man or woman ever wants to go. Or wants their doctor to go. But it’s not nearly as bad as you think. That place is your colon, a place where cancer may be lurking. And if it is, by the time you have symptoms (such as weight loss, blood in stool, change in stool, abdominal pain), it may be too late. So, if you are over 45 to 50 years old (or even 40 in high risk individuals), you need to take this seriously, and go get your colon checked.

There are a number of different tests which can do this. I’m going to outline the most common screening options for the majority of the population at average risk.


Colonoscopy is the gold standard in routine colon screening. It is the only colorectal cancer screening tool that is both diagnostic and therapeutic. Not only does colonoscopy perform a complete evaluation of the colon, if any precancerous growths (called polyps) are found, they can usually be removed right away. If anything else looks abnormal, a biopsy can be done. Because this is such a thorough exam, it only needs to be done every ten years.

Having a colonoscopy requires a complete bowel prep the night before to cleanse the colon. Because you will be sedated, you need to take a day off work and will need a ride there and back home again. On very rare occasions, complications may occur such as a bowel perforation. Since it is a procedure, done in your doctor’s office or hospital, it is more expensive, but when used as a screening tool, most insurance carriers cover it.

Fecal immunochemical testing or FIT

FIT is probably the easiest way to check for colorectal cancer and is totally non-invasive. FIT detects tiny amounts of blood in the stool that could be a sign of cancer or large polyps. You get a simple kit from your doctor’s office, put a small amount of your stool into the kit and return it to your doctor’s office or the lab. There’s very little prep, it’s inexpensive and you don’t have to take time off from work. However, FIT is not as effective as colonoscopy at finding cancer or polyps, so it needs to be done every year. Also, if your result comes back positive, you will still need to have a colonoscopy. FIT has a false positive rate of about 5 percent, often times caused by ulcers or hemorrhoids.

Cologuard or FIT-Fecal DNA Test

This test is the newest in the battery of colon screening tools. It checks for both blood and DNA markers, which can be a sign of cancer or pre-cancerous growths. It is non-invasive and done in the comfort of your home. After your healthcare provider orders the test, a kit is shipped directly to your home with instructions explaining how to complete the test. After collecting your stool sample, the kit is sent directly to a laboratory for processing and analysis. The test should be repeated every three years.

No special diet or bowel prep is required for a stool DNA test. However, if the test does show a possible cancer or pre-cancer, you would need a colonoscopy.

Here is something to keep in mind with both the Cologuard and the FIT test. As already mentioned, a routine screening colonoscopy is covered by most insurance carriers every ten years. The Cologuard and FIT test are also usually covered, but if either one of them comes back positive and you need to move onto the colonoscopy, it is no longer considered screening. It will be considered a diagnostic test and most insurance companies will no longer pay for it. It sounds like a scam, but I’m giving you the inside scoop here, both literally and figuratively.

Bottom Line (also literally and figuratively)

When colorectal cancer is found early, before it has spread, the 5-year relative survival rate is 90%. This means 9 out of 10 people with early-stage cancer survive at least 5 years. But if the cancer has had a chance to spread outside the colon or rectum, survival rates are lower. (American Cancer Society website)

So whichever screening tool you think would work best for you, talk to your healthcare provider, and then follow through.
Next week: Which screen did I go with? 

Just some random food from the coast of Kenya, coz I couldn't post a picture of what it looks like at the other end. 

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Gift - Word of the Year 2019

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17 (New International Version)

It feels like a very long time since I wrote a Sunday inspirational post. Like, it’s been a year, right?

Speaking of the new year, I’ve been picking a Word of the Year for the last few years. I just looked it up, and it’s been an amazing five years. That’s five words. They have been Acceptance, Anticipation, Possibility, Peace, Purpose. I seem to have been leaning towards alliteration.

In addition to the Word, I find a Bible passage which goes along with it. From the verse above, perhaps I have chosen the word Perfect for 2019. Or it could be Above. No, of course not, stop being silly.

First, you may be asking yourself what I am even talking about. I don’t know when or how this first came about, but there has been a recent trend to choose a specific word to be your focus for the year. The word can be motivational, inspirational, calming, humorous (I guess, coz can’t everybody use a good laugh every day). But whatever word you choose, for whatever reason, you carry it around in your head each day, almost like a mantra.

Anyway, you can look it up online if you still don’t get the idea. But back to me.

The word I’ve chosen for 2019, or that has chosen me, is Gift. Not only to remind me that every where I look I see the countless gifts that God has showered upon me, but also so that I try to be a gift to someone else each day. Whether I spend time with a friend in need, buy something seemingly insignificant for a stranger, give away one of my prized possessions so that it can find a new home and a new heart. Whatever I encounter over the next year, let me offer the gifts I have available.

Give me a giving heart this year, Lord. Guide me in sharing my gifts. And as always, thank You, Father, for everything You have given to me. Amen.  
There is a long story behind this picture. I'll try to share it soon. All I'll tell you now is this was one of my sister Pat's birthday parties and I'm sure she got gifts, so it fit the theme. But more so because Pat was the best gift that God gave to that little girl with the squinty face.

I have to add this update. Why did it totally slip my mind that today is the day we celebrate the visit of the Magi to Baby Jesus? The day they offered their gifts to the Christ Child? And here my blog post is about gifts. I have to call it another fail on my part and another wink from God.  

Friday, January 4, 2019

Things Can Only Get Better

I promise that I will get back on my three-days-a-week blogging schedule, but for today I’m keeping it short and sweet. As you may have heard, I’ve had another minor setback. If I told you all about it, this post would be anything but short and sweet. It would be the complete opposite and not for the faint-hearted. Let’s just say that I am thankful we have two bathrooms in our house and that Hubby and I can cross off our bucket list one more thing that every couple should do together.   

(January 1, 10:00 pm. Me: I think it’s time. I have to get to the bathroom.
Hubby: Me too.
January 1, 11:20 pm. Me: I’m going in again.
Hubby: Me too.
January 2, 12:15 am. Me: I'm not gonna make it. [good thing I have a bucket.]
Hubby no response as he is already in his bathroom.)

Yesterday morning he observed that we have been sick every day so far this year. Isn’t he a gem?

We are both much better today. I’m almost back to eating normally, Hubby not yet. I even somehow gained back one of the four pounds I lost in 24 hours. Things can only get better. 

Let me end with a picture of one of my neighbors just hanging out in my backyard the day before New Year’s Eve.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2019 New's Year Day and where have I been?

    I didn’t plan on taking nearly a full week off from blogging. Family is more important, not only over the Christmas holidays, but any time of year. House and home matter a lot too. So I’ve spent the last week chillin’, not writing here or on any other project, taking a lot of pictures though. Oh, and also scouring to put together my family tree. Made the mistake last night of starting on my husband’s family tree, actually stayed up until after nine pm on New Year’s Eve.

But you don’t need to know any of that. You just want to see some of the pictures, right? 
 Once again, bought too many presents, this is just the tip of the iceberg. 
 I also, once again, had to raid the kitchen cupboard for boxes.  
 I may look festive, maybe too festitve, as in, have eaten too many cookies already. 
 Santa always looks festive, though, especially when he borrows a baby for a photo op.
 Even more festive when he is delivering presents to his favorite doc. 
 Christmas Eve was more of a frenzy of opening presents. 
 The dogs think so too. 
 Christmas morning, chillin' after all the gifts are open. 
 All the puppies, that one chance at a good pic. 
 House guests for the weekend - the hubby's brother and his wife from Iowa. 
 My beautiful daughter and her family. 
Dino doing his job. 
And that's all folks. 
Have a Happy New Year.